Share Your Story: The Baby’s Room

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The Baby’s Room. An Extract From Motherhoodwinked, An Infertility Memoir By Anne-Marie Scully

My childhood dream of becoming a mother was, at least in my mind, a fairly simple one. Get married, buy a home and have babies – three to be precise. Thirty-five was the milestone by which I hoped to have achieved all of this; by age twenty-nine I was well on track with two out of the three ticked off the list.

 

Almost as soon as my husband and I got engaged we started looking to buy a home. Given that both of these are majorly stressful events, my husband would have preferred to get the wedding over with first before starting to house hunt but, in order to keep to my plan, I wanted to have everything in place for the babies that I was sure would follow soon after we were married. Many of the houses we looked at were modest three-bed houses marketed at young couples like us. The owners were usually selling on due to their expanding brood and the need for more room. I convinced my husband that we would be much better off looking for a bigger house that we could live in forever and in which we could raise a large family. I pointed out how much hassle it would be to move house with small children and how it would be so much easier to buy a place where we could permanently put down roots. As usual, I managed to persuade him and we ended up with a perfect family home in a seaside suburb of Dublin. With four bedrooms, three bathrooms and a garden with plenty of room for a swing set, it also came with a huge mortgage – but that didn’t bother me since I had a good job that offered fully paid maternity leave. As far as I was concerned, there were no obstacles in sight.

 

Before we even moved in I had mapped out all of the rooms and their purposes. I designated the largest bedroom as ours as it had plenty of space for a crib and a king-size bed (to fit the kids in on Saturday mornings to watch cartoons) and I chose the room off the kitchen as a playroom so that I could easily keep an eye on the kids while cooking. I abandoned my plans for a solid wood floor and cream linen couches in favor of laminate flooring and dark leather couches, which are more child friendly and easier to clean. Instead of installing a free-standing antique bath, which is what I really wanted, I kept the standard shower over bath affair that came with the house as it would be much easier for bathing children. I also had to forgo the polished walnut staircase that I had dreamed of as it would just be too slippery and dangerous for kids. When it came to overhauling the garden, again my husband was overruled; this time on the Japanese Zen inspired garden he wanted as I insisted we keep the grass for the children to play on.

 

After a year of trying to conceive my dream home felt very big and very empty, and became a painful reminder of the life that I didn’t have. I couldn’t help but wish I hadn’t been so cautious and that I had decorated according to what my husband and I both wanted for our lives as they were then, as opposed to a future life with children. The room that made me most sad was, of course, the baby’s room, chosen immediately as the nursery due to its quiet location at the back of the house. The sunlight that floods through the window in the early morning makes it almost magical. Even after two years of trying to conceive I was very reluctant to use this room for storage and I tried to keep it as clutter free as possible so as not to spoil its magic. I imagined where I would put the crib, the rocking chair and the changing table. I even planned a neutral color scheme that would be suitable for a girl or a boy.

 

Of course, I never told anyone about these plans, especially after hearing friends talk in horror about people they knew who had rooms decorated and wardrobes filled with tiny outfits before a pregnancy had even been confirmed. Such behavior was thought to jinx things, so I did all the decorating and planning in my head. I sometimes visited websites to get ideas for nursery furniture and other baby paraphernalia. After a while, I was horrified to see that wherever I went on the Internet I was being targeted with adverts that assumed I was a new mother. As someone who worked in the online ad industry for many years and helped advertisers understand user behavior patterns – and, in particular, the typical path consumers take to purchase – I wondered if these retailers ever questioned why so many users came back to their site over and over again without buying anything.

 

In time, the baby’s room inevitably became a junk room; used to store Christmas decorations, large suitcases, spare furniture and other odds and ends, and it broke my heart. Whenever people came to visit, and I was giving them the obligatory tour, I would feel self-conscious about showing them that room as it was obvious to everyone what it should be used for. The playroom also eventually became a sunroom, although I furnished it with less care than the rest of the house, convinced at the time that it wouldn’t be a sunroom for long.

 

Living in an area where the main inhabitants are young families can be challenging for an infertile couple. The first year that we moved into our new house I couldn’t wait for Halloween. I had grown up in a very rural part of Ireland and, as a result, we didn’t get any trick-or-treaters coming to our door. After leaving home, I had always lived in apartment buildings occupied mainly by students or young professionals, so we didn’t get any trick-or-treaters there either.

On the first Halloween in our new house I made a huge effort, carving a real pumpkin, lighting lanterns in the window and stocking up on all the best sweets. The kids that came to my door that year actually referred to me as the lady that ‘has the good sweets’ which delighted me as I felt it proved that I really understood them. I enjoyed myself that night, despite the fact that the doorbell must have rung a hundred times and we ended up running out of treats and had to make an emergency trip to the local shop for more supplies.

 

I was smitten by the younger children, many still babies, adorably dressed as pumpkins or angels and I enjoyed the banter with the older kids who impressed me with the creativity of their homemade costumes. When I eventually sat down that night to watch a scary movie with my husband I was too excited to concentrate. I couldn’t stop thinking about all the Halloweens we had to look forward to as a family in our house. Unfortunately, that feeling didn’t last through to the following year when I found myself making escape plans to a child-free hotel for the night.

 

Christmas was a similar story, with signs on every house (except ours) directing Santa to stop. On Christmas Day, every year, our road would be filled with excited children learning to ride their new bikes or scooters, or building snowmen if it happened to be a white one. It was hard looking out at them not knowing if Santa would ever visit our house.

 

We were also one of the few houses on our road with a front garden; most of the other houses had gotten rid of the grass in order to allow enough space for two family cars to park. Since we didn’t have two cars we decided to keep the grass. I regretted this decision when our front garden became a playground for our neighbors’ children. There were many evenings when, sitting in our front room watching TV, trying to relax and forget about infertility for a while, we would look up to see kids staring in at us. Although it was a bit disconcerting, we tried to put up with it so as not to offend our neighbors. After a while, however, seeing them playing there as opposed to the children we longed for upset me too much and I would scare them away like a cantankerous old woman in a fairytale. It did cross my mind that ordering them out of my garden might come back to haunt me if they grew up to become wayward teenagers who decided to pay back the grumpy lady, but it was worth the risk.

 

There were times when we considered selling up and moving back to an apartment in the city where we would not be surrounded by families, but something always made me change my mind. Buying the house had felt right and despite its emptiness it felt like home. I was hoping my instinct was trying to tell me that it would all come good in the end.

The above piece is an extract from Motherhoodwinked, Anne-Marie Scully’s infertility memoir which is currently available to buy in ebook on all Amazon stores. To find out more about the book and read sample chapters you can also visit www.motherhoodwinked.com

 

About The Author

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Anne-Marie Scully is an Irish author and founder of digital publishing company Orchard Wall Publishing.

 

Motherhoodwinked, her first book, is a memoir documenting her struggle with infertility and IVF. Named for the frustration Anne-Marie felt at finding out that having a baby was not a given, as she had been led to believe since she was a child, Motherhoodwinked documents the pain and the shame of life as an infertile woman.

 

She lives with her husband Micheal in Dublin, Ireland and is still hoping to add motherhood to her biography at some stage in the future.

A Happy Ending

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Even though I don’t always find the time to post as much as I would like to; I love this site.  I love the community that we’ve created.  I love the interactions on the Facebook page.  And I love the stories shared by all of you.  But there is one little thing that is sometimes hard.  Sometimes I find out that old friends, those I knew growing up, are also struggling.  In some ways, the familiarity makes it easier for them to approach me with their stories and questions.  But my heart aches for them in a different way.  While I shed tears for all of you who share your details with me, it really hits close to home when my childhood friends pop up on my radar…simply because of infertility.

Today and old friend shares her story – her happy ending.  After years and years and tests and more tests…after pregnancy and loss and fears and bed rest…after ups and downs and in betweens…she finally has her happy ending.  Truly – I couldn’t be happier.

Please welcome my old friend from Connecticut – I hope her words and story inspire some of you to JUST KEEP SWIMMING.

 

I’m no expert on fertility but I do have my own story and if it makes just one person feel less alone for even just a minute my smile will be a little bigger today. I hope that person is you!

My husband and I were married in the spring of 2008. About a month before our wedding my dad was diagnosed with cancer. He died almost a year to the day later. I tell you this because it was the main reason we decided to hold off trying to have kids right away. This was a big decision for us since my husband was 37 and I was 33 when we got married. Right after he passed we both decided the time felt right. And so our bumpy road began…

We started trying on our own in 2009 for about  6 months per my OB’s recommendations. I wasn’t sure how the game was going to play out because I went on the pill in college to regulate my periods. After 6 months with very irregular periods and no pregnancies my OB referred me to the “specialist” in their practice. After a  battery of tests I was diagnosed with PCOS. I wasn’t surprised knowing my cycle and family history. The next step was Clomid. I took it and went for my first ultrasound. At that point everything came to an abrupt stop when the ultrasonographer advised me to “stay away from my husband unless I wanted to be the next Octomom on the cover of People Magazine”. Yes, those were her exact words and no, she didn’t have to say them twice. Next stop: a Reproductive Endocronologist.  We got a referral and off we went.

Back to square one. Lots more tests and LOTS more waiting. The next part of the story is pretty monotonous: first IVF cycle- FAIL, second IVF cycle- FAIL, third IVF cycle- FAIL, and yes, the fourth IVF cycle- FAIL. All along I kept thinking there had to be something else wrong with me but my doctor kept saying “we just needed to get it right”. After our fourth cycle failed we decided it was time for a second opinion . So I gathered up my records and we started all over again.

During the first meeting with our new RE he asked what our doctor had said about the septum in my uterus. I’m sorry, the WHAT???!!!  Apparantly the ultrasonographer had written, “question uterine septum” in her notes and our doctor failed to address it. I can’t even begin to explain the amount of anger I felt in that moment. My instincts were right all along; there WAS something else wrong with me.  What an incompetent a**hole!!!! I had been to hell and back over the past 2 years  and it potentially could have been avoided?! After I stopped swearing and wiped my tears  I was able to listen to my new doctor’s plan: remove the uterine septum and try again.  Ok, sounded simple.  Can we do it tomorrow? Of course not.  Didn’t you know that everything in IVF takes twice as long?! Especially for me and my 40 day cycles. So in October 2010 I had my septum removed and then, you guessed it, we had to wait for my uterus to heal. At that point we decided to enjoy the holidays, drink LOTS of wine, do a bunch of skiing and start again after the New Year.

We started our fifth IVF cycle in January and on Valentine’s Day 2012 we found out we were having twins. TWINS! Oh my! Of course we always knew it was a risk, especially when we put two blasotcysts in, but we never thought it would come to fruition. After all, I’d never gotten pregnant before.

Next chapter: the IVF pregnancy. By this time I was what they call Advanced Maternal Age (AMA) or as I call it- OLD … 37 to be exact. I chose a new OB who was high risk since I was now old and carrying twins. All was going great. We were lucky, my husband was self employed so he was able to come to all my appointments. At 12 weeks I had my appointment with my OB in the morning and then my ultrasound in the afternoon. Since I worked in the hospital where my OB was it was easy to schedule things like that. I told my husband to only make the drive for the fun part; the ultrasound. During my appointment with my OB she said she wanted to “take a quick peek” at the babies. Ok, cool with me. I’ll never forget her face when she told me there was only one heartbeat. It’s all kind of a blur after that. After a day or two I picked myself up because Baby A was looking great and I still had a lot to be excited about.

Next stop:  the level 2 ultrasound. Look at all the cute baby parts and it’s a girl! Yay! Then, in walks my OB to tell us there’s a “bright spot” on the heart, also called a cardiac echogenic focus. She said It’s one of the many markers for Downs Syndrome. Are you freaking kidding me?! Is this a joke?! Without any other markers, which we didn’t have, the risk is very low, but there’s still a risk. And then she said because of the demise of Baby B there’s no way we could do the blood test to get the exact risk. Our only option was an amnio, which carries a 1 in 200 risk of miscarriage. Go home and think about it. Cue the tears. These tears were the ones I saved up from the miscarriage when I was trying to be all postiive for Baby A plus the tears of having to make a decision to have an amnio. In other words, there were a lot of them. My husband and I had many conversations about whether to do the amnio  but what it came down to was I could never forgive myself if the amnio was negative and then I had a miscarriage. Altough the risk for that was low, the way things had gone thus far I was convinced that would have been my fate.  So we decided against the amnio and hoped for the best.

Fast forward to week 25. I woke up one morning just not feeling right. I couldn’t put my finger on it but something was just not right. If it hadn’t been Friday I probably would have  blown it off but I lived almost an hour from the hospital and didn’t want to drag myself in on Saturday. So, I waltzed down to the clinic to let them know how I was feeling. They did an internal and hooked me up to the monitor. What do you know, I was in premature labor at 25 weeks. I had just bought myself a full ride to labor and delivery filled with steroids, lots of magnesium and antibiotics. All I kept thinking was after all this I could not have this baby at 25 weeks. It was way too early. She wasn’t cooked enough. Thankfully they were able to stop the labor but I’d be going home to bedrest for the next 15 weeks.

My OB said my ultimate goal was 37 weeks and after that this baby girl could come whenever she was ready. Well 37 weeks came and went and I was still pregnant. Now, I live in New England where we have a few hot months a year so central air conditioning doesn’t exist. At least not in my house. So by 37 weeks, in my hot as hell house, I was past ready to have this baby girl. And sure enough at week 39, in the middle of the night, my water broke. So off we went to the hospital. Here’s the irony of this whole story: after being on bedrest for 15 weeks I had to be induced. Ha! After a much needed epidural and 16 hours of labor, on October 23, 2012, our healthy, beautiful girl, Caroline, was born.

So here I sit writing to you. I’m not going to lie; it wasn’t easy. It was 4 years of heartbreak and physical pain. There were so many days I cried thinking it was never going to happen. All my friends were having their second and third kids and I was still trying to have one. There were lots of pity parties in my house and if you wanted to come you’d better bring red wine, and lots of it! It got to the point where friends didn’t know what to say to me anymore so they stopped saying anything at all. There were many days I felt like my husband and I were on an island and I wondered where all my friends went. I felt like they just didn’t understand.

I certainly don’t have all the answers. I can tell you that when I wake up to my beautiful girl smiling at me every morning I know it was all worth it. I equate it to labor amnesia; I remember it was horribly painful but I don’t remember the pain I felt when there was a hole in my heart. Only that it was there. Perhaps that’s what will make me do it all over again….someday.

It will all feel like too much sometimes because it just is. And on those days when you feel so alone try to remember that you’re not. Sometimes the most comforting words come from someone you’ve never met through blogs. So stay strong, trust your instincts and forgive yourself for whatever it is you’re feeling. You can do it.

Thank you, my sweet friend.  May motherhood be all that you hoped for and then some.  xoxoxoxo

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As I Wait

Today on Share Your Story, Whitney, shares her long journey toward pregnancy.  Whitney is no stranger to the waiting game, and knows a thing or two about saving up to make your family dreams come true.  What strikes me most about Whitney is that, despite the long and exhausting struggle, she manages to find the positive and remain grateful for what is good in her life.  Very inspiring, indeed.  You can catch Whitney over at There She Goes

It is November 6, 2012 and the world is waiting to find out who the next President of the United States is, I on the other hand am waiting to see if my period shows up. This is the life of any woman, who wants a child, and this has been my life for the last 3 years; this is my story.

 

I always knew that I wanted children. I could never explain it, I did not come from a big family, in fact I was an only child, but I always babysat and was a nanny in college, and I remember feeling so happy people would tell me what I wonderful mother I would make someday.

 

I never thought that at 21 I would meet the love of my life and then be married by 22. At 23, I held a positive pregnancy test in my hand and felt true joy, only to watch it slip away days later. At first we were optimistic, I remember my husband telling me that he had a feeling that “you will be really good at getting pregnant”, but as months went by we started to realize that this might be a little harder then we thought.

 

Months turned into a year, and I tried to be patient. We moved to Orange County my husband threw himself into law school and I graduated college, still no baby.

 

The tests were done and advice was given, “just give it more time,” “try to relax”, “go on a trip” not to mention all of the other weird advice “keep a pillow under your hips,” “keep your legs up for 20 minutes” …like anyone can do that? Clomid was given and taken, two years and still no baby.

 

When people talk about the cost of infertility they often don’t think about young students who are working as hard as they can to pay the rent and saving their pennies so they can do one round of IUI. And putting it off month after month, watching couples around you have their first and then second child.

 

And now we are waiting. After two doctors, two semen analyses, one HSG, and a million ultrasounds all we know is this:  We are young and healthy and there seems to be no reason why we cannot conceive a child. The only diagnosis that we have been given is that I might have a slight resistance to insulin, and a very mild form of PCOS, but I have no typical symptoms.

 

Full of excitement we counted out every dollar and paid for the one round of IUI. Clomid 100mg twice a day. Ultrasounds stated that I responded very well, took the HCG trigger and released three eggs. IUI went perfectly and now we wait.

 

During this whole process I have tried to be optimistic, and not angry. But there were times when it seemed like the whole world was pregnant and I wasn’t. When family members who didn’t know about our struggle would complain about their pregnancy, and how they didn’t really want children anyway.

 

I know that one day my husband and I will hold our child in our arms, I know that child will be worth every negative pregnancy test that I have taken, it will be worth all of the ovulation kits I bought, and all of the crazy drugs we have been on. That child will be the answer to all of our prayers and hopes and dreams.

I have found comfort in my sweet friends who know of my struggle, how have encouraged me and make me find the humor in infertility. I have found comfort in the stories from the old testament of Rachael, Sarah and Rebekkah. I have tried to smile and nod when people tell me “just relax and it will happen.” I have tried my best to be supportive when friends and family have babies even though it hurts a little. Sometimes I get so angry I want to break something, then I remember “Thine adversity shall be but a small moment. And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.”

I have come to accept that things do not happen on my timing but on the Lords. I don’t know how long the road to our child will be. But I do know that the Lord has plans for me and my family. I know that one day hopefully soon I will look into the eyes of my child.

But until that day I will try my best to be content with the blessings that I have already been given. A husband who loves me, who is kind and supportive, a safe home, a job, food to eat, rockin abs, a sweet puppy who I suspect might be better then some children. And the assurance that good things come to those who wait and that I have so much more than I could ever have imagined. These are the things that I suspect we all think about as we wait…

Thanks, Whitney.  Every story told helps another someone along the way…

Infertility and the Military

Today a very brave pregnancy hopeful steps forward to share her story.  Racheal is married to the love of her life, who also happens to be a member of the military.  While some doctors have been helpful along the way, Racheal has learned the hard way that the military and infertility are a very difficult combination.  I had a chance to ask Racheal a few questions about her experience, and I am grateful for her honesty and willingness to open up.    

 

How long have you been married?

We’ve been married for 5 years.

 

How long has your spouse been a member of the military?

He enlisted into the Army 2004.  We got married in 2007, after a very short-lived “relationship”. He came home from his first deployment and we became friends. Then he came home a couple of months later to attend his second AIT in VA. We started talking then and just a few months later we were married and moved to Fort Drum NY.

 

How long have you been trying to get pregnant?

I have to be honest here; I was on birth control (the patch) when I was dating my first boyfriend when I was 17. I was allergic to it so stopped taking it when he moved away. We carried on a long distance relationship off and on for two years. I then was in another 2 year relationship which we never used birth control and after 6 months no condoms. I never got pregnant with either one and never really thought about it either.

 

I tried the pill when I started dating my husband, as I was in a new relationship and didn’t know where it was going for sure…and it made me violently ill. So we abstained until we were engaged. On the first day of marriage we officially started trying for a baby. We both agreed that we were ready, but unfortunately we have been through two, one-year  deployments, and numerous months of training. It can get a little difficult!

 

When did you first realize that you might need infertility testing?

We started using OPK’s a couple of months into our marriage but weren’t really concerned. Then the first deployment happened right on our 1st anniversary…once he came home we started trying again. That spring I knew something was wrong so I decided to make an appointment to discuss things. I kind of always knew deep down there had to be an issue but I ignored it. Due to rape when I was 18 I contracted HPV and other things that, some were curable. But unfortunately HPV was not, and I was told there could be an issue conceiving someday.

 

What was the response of your doctor when you mentioned your concerns about infertility?

He was VERY concerned! He wrote my referral to the fertility specialist that day!

 

Were you referred to a specialist?

Yes the first and second time. No the third time (see below).

 

Did you ask to see a specialist? If so, what was the response?

My referral was put into the system and it took 14 days to be approved. But here is the juicy part of the story, Chris deployed again during the fertility process in October 2010. He arrived back stateside October of 2011 and I asked for a new referral as I had issues with the previous FS and he was no longer allowed to accept my insurance. I got my referral right away and scheduled my appointment for March of 2012. In Jan 2012 we found out we had orders to PCS to Fort Irwin CA and had to report here on March 9th. Unfortunately that meant I would have to cancel my appointment with the FS as we would be in transit, and I wanted to give up my spot for someone who would actually be able to use it.

 

Once we arrived in Fort Irwin I asked again for a referral, and that’s where the issues started. I was sent to the OBGYN, as that is who has to write my referral here…and was given a horrific doctor. He was very rude to me and gave me excuses every month as to why he wouldn’t refer me to a fertility specialist. He went as far as telling me that I probably won’t ever get pregnant and that I was not going to be a success rate. He insulted my weight and talked to me like I was stupid.

 

Do you think/know your experience is similar to that of other military spouses?

In some aspects yes, I’ve had wives come to me since I was on Ricki Lake and they have shared their stories from all over the world. Most of them do suffer from PCOS though which I know for sure I do not have. Some have had no issues with referrals and others have been treated like garbage. All of us share the same pain though, we all want that miracle to hold in our arms and love unconditionally. I have friends who have suffered from all different sorts of infertility issues, I’m just still waiting to find someone who is suffering from unexplained infertility…or at least seeking out an explanation for my issues so I can finally feel like I at least fit into a category.

 

Is infertility talked about openly among your friends?

Actually not really, not until I was on television. The ones that are really close to me know about my struggles but most of them can’t relate. Usually it’s something I talk about and they just respond with the usual, “That sucks, I’m sorry, and I hope they figure something out for you.” Now my friends ask me more in depth questions, which I’m very happy about because now I don’t have to bottle up my feelings, hide from my friends, or ignore phone calls when I’m having a bad day. I’ve also seen a huge change in my friends on Facebook who have gotten pregnant. I expressed how upsetting it was to find out on Facebook and how depressing too because I’m jealous whenever I see it in the first place, but I also have the anxiety of, “You could have WARNED ME!” Now they will call me and tell me first to soften the blow so I don’t throw myself into a depression. I absolutely love my friends! My best friend is actually pregnant right now and I was the first person she called. She calls me at least 3 times a week to check on me and when she does I immediately ask how the baby is doing. She is very understanding about me being jealous of her but at the same time I’m very happy for her.

 

Does your insurance cover any of the cost of testing/treatment?

Yes they do cover the office visits (thus far) but treatments are completely out of pocket. From my understanding as far as Clomid and Metformin…stuff like that it’s covered by the insurance, but if it comes down to injections it is not covered. When he deployed the first time and we were going to do IUI through the first FS my injections were quoted to me at $1,500 a month for a minimum of 3 months, completely out of pocket. That was almost his whole paycheck at the time.

 

How does your spouse feel about the way you are being treated by military doctors?

He’s very upset too, but he’s quiet about it. He was not a fan of my last fertility specialist because of how he treated me and put me off 3 months to do my HSG/Surgery and then waited until two days before deployment to actually do it. So we didn’t have a chance! He has been really irritated with this doctor that I just finished with because of how he talked to me and treated me to. He has not met the new OB who I am now seeing but he’s very happy that this doctor seems VERY concerned about me. He’s not only concerned about my infertility but also my other health issues. (Heart and back)

 

How has infertility affected your marriage?

At first it wasn’t that big of a deal. But as the appointments have gone by and the ones he’s actually been able to go to…it’s changed. He’s a trooper through all of the mood swings, depression, and anxiety.  He’s a great husband. That doesn’t change the fact that I see the expression of disappointment and sadness and it makes me feel worse. I’ve been so depressed that I thought about leaving him so that he can be with someone who could give him children. I just can’t imagine my life without him though…childless or not.

 

How about your friendships?

This is a tough one…I’ve lost some friends due to infertility. Some have not been able to handle the depression and mood swings. Some have found my desire to be a mother too intense, others have just plain not understood and rubbed their pregnancy in my face. But the ones that I still have by my side have been so amazing!!!! I already told you about Sydney (my bestie who is pregnant) she lives in PA so I don’t get to see her until probably April. I have another best friend here with me, Chaning, who at first was overwhelmed by this all but she has done exactly what a best friend should do. She demanded that she gets to take care of me after surgery so that my husband didn’t have to use his leave days to do it. I know he should be the one taking care of me but those leave days are precious and I would rather us get to use them together doing something fun…like IVF if needed!!!! Not to mention it’s going to occur right at block leave and my husband is needed for duty.

 

What do you want others to know about infertility?

I want them to know they are not alone. Someone else out there is also suffering through the same thing. I don’t want them to give up either. I know it’s cliché but there IS hope and us ladies need to stick together. Even when we hit the point of our deepest depression there is someone out there who can pull you out of it and hold your hand. I also want to educate those that don’t suffer from infertility. I want them to know how difficult and delicate of a subject it is for those of use who are infertile. I want them to think before they speak to their friend and give advice. It’s not as simple as “relaxing”, “throwing your legs over your head”, “get drunk and just do it”, “that artificial insemination”, etc. I want them to be educated on the actual process, costs, heartbreak, and hope! I want them to realize it’s not a simple as they think it is, and when they have a friend who’s going through it…they need to know how important it is to just be there for them and to be compassionate. Also maybe see what they could do to help, become active! There is a bill that is trying to be passed for help with things like IVF…do your research and write your congressman. Possibly consider becoming a surrogate or a donor. Anything you could possibly do to build the future, as you never know if you or your child is next. And most importantly help EDUCATE!

 

In one word, infertility is…heartbreaking.

 

Thank you, Racheal…I know that your story will help many others.

Share Your Story: Murphy Lives Here

Merryl Polak is the author of Murphy Lives Here, a story about her struggle with the pursuit of motherhood. After struggling with infertility for almost 9 years, she is finally a mother and now has a lot to say about that topic!

 

When the birth parents might change their mind…

 

My heart sank before she even uttered the next sentence, which was; “The birth parents were not ready to sign the papers today.”

 

Although the previous nights had been sleepless due to a child in need of food and diaper changes, this night was sleepless for additional reasons. William and I kept staring at each other with complete despair. We watched the clock tick by all night and the following morning. We barely moved and we did not eat. We tried to memorize every detail of the beautiful baby in front of us fearing the worst, but William assured me that the birth parents would never renege on all of the promises they made not only to us, but also to the baby girl before us.

 

“They don’t have a pot to piss in,” he reassured me. “They don’t have jobs, they don’t have cars, and they don’t have any financial way of providing for her. They want more for her, that is why they pursued adoption in the first place and nothing has changed.”

 

As true as that statement was, financial security was not the only requirement to parent. Of course, as true as that statement was, anyone pursuing adoption would not be considered without stable financial resources. This is what angered me. Adoptive parents have to prove that they are capable of raising a child in a million ways, but biological parents never had to prove a thing. Adoptive parents were insignificant and retained no rights. People who are loving and kindhearted and financially stable who for whatever reason cannot procreate are punished multiple times.

 

They are punished with infertility. Perhaps they pursue IVF or other invasive treatments like we did, which punishes an infertile couple’s wallet, and in my case, physical health. If that fails, as it did so many times in our case, they must jump through hoops to be approved for adoption. Even when that is over, someone must actually choose them as being worthy to parent their child. And still, when you think you have jumped every hurdle, birth parents have to stick to their word and still follow through and allow you to raise their biological child.

 

I found myself contemplating, what was the magic of genetics? Somehow, being genetically tied to someone gave a person superior parenting rights. For this, I have no explanation. Whatever the reasons are, they seem misguided. Perhaps it is because of the position I sit in, but perhaps, it is because it is also true…

 

Merryl has a happy ending to share…but you’ll have to visit her blog and pick up her book to get to the end of this story.  And don’t forget to find her on Facebook!

Share Your Story: Things I Really Want to Say

I get a lot of email from fellow infertiles that just need to vent.  These women have stories to tell, but nowhere to tell them.  Sure, they share them in bits and pieces with their partners and loved ones along the way…but sometimes they have some feelings to share that aren’t so share-friendly in large groups.  I’m so glad these infertiles have found me and trust me and feel safe within the pages of Clomid and Cabernet.  Because, honestly?  That’s the whole reason I started this site.  Today a fellow infertile has a few things to say, and I promised to share them on her behalf.  I’m sure many of you can identify with her…

 

“Things I Really Want to Say”

 

-Anonymous

 

This cycle seems to be incredibly difficult. It is just my third IUI but with new drugs (and this being the last IUI before IVF), the snark fills my brain constantly. Whatever coping mechanism works, right?  I bite my tongue and just try to make it through to the end of the infamous two-week wait.

 

But secretly, this is what I’m saying in my head…

 

To my childless and not trying friends: Please stop using the word “breeder” to refer to parents. I know you seem to think that because I am also childless, I find babies and toddlers and kids grating. I don’t; I desperately want one. I can’t share in your diatribes.

 

To those who find out: Yes, yes, if I would just relax my ovaries would somehow magically produce 24 follicles each month. Why didn’t I think of that?

 

To those who complain about other’s fertility treatments: Selfish? Wasteful? Shut the frack up.

 

To the other women in the waiting room: We are all here for the same reason. Each of you, every time I see you, make me feel better, make me feel less alone. The diversity of you – the thinner and the heavier, the younger and the older, the married and singles, the gay and the straight – help me give myself a break on the self-blame. Maybe, just maybe, we can muster up a good morning while we do our third day of blood draw and ultrasound this week.

 

To my best friend: Thank you for making me laugh. Thank you for listening to way too much detailed information about side effects. And thanks for responding to reports of blue discharge with the ever-important question, “Are you having an affair with a Smurf?”

 

To my partner: I wish I could make you understand how much I wish I did not snap at you at the littlest things when my emotional health is on the verge due to extraneous hormones. Thank you for holding my hand when the substitute doctor refused to use a smaller speculum. Also, the high five after the sperm count announcement might be superfluous…

 

What thoughts run through your mind when you’re feeling down about infertility?

Share Your Story: Just Stop Trying and It Will Happen

Today I want to introduce you to Tracy.  Tracy has been on the infertility roller coaster for quite some time.  Her ability to keep her spirits up and cheer for others along the way is truly inspiring.  She began blogging as a form of catharsis, but quickly realized that if we all stick together we can help each other along the way.  Did I mention that she’s also funny?  With the tagline, “Barren and blogging.  Don’t be jealous”, you know you’ll find some humor along the way!  You can find her over at Just Stop Trying and It Will Happen.  Please show her some love and support here today as she shares her story with all of you.

My infertility story began about three and a half years ago.  The husband and I were newly married, and eager to start a family.  We let things go for a couple of months, not really trying to try.  When nothing happened after about six months, and my two closest friends who had been married within a few months of me were expecting their first babies, I started to get frustrated.

I escalated to ovulation predictor kits, and learned a lot more about my body.  After a few unsuccessful months of that, I escalated again to taking my basal body temperature every morning.

Every month brought disappointment, frustration, and jealousy over others’ ability to produce children at will.  I peed on more things than I can count, and that has yet to end.

After we had been actively trying for about 18 months, I went to my new ob-gyn and asked for advice.  She asked me to show her on a calendar how often the husband and I were having sex, told me that was not adequate, and told me to have sex every other day.  If nothing happened within a year, I was to report back to her for further treatment.

At this point, I was 29.  My clock had been ticking for a while… I was ready.  Not in a year.  Now.

I made an appointment with a new ob-gyn that day, and saw her the next week.  She ordered a whole barrage of blood work for me, a a semen analysis for the husband, and sent me for an HSG to be sure my fallopian tubes were not blocked.

After everything came back normal, I was officially diagnosed with unexplained infertility.  I like to call it Invisible Infertility.  Ugh.

I started a two month stint on the entry-level dosage of Clomid, and found that despite the side effects, the meds helped me to see a more clear ovulation occurring on my BBT chart and with the OPKs.  Since I was prescribed the meds through my ob-gyn, I was not able to be monitored aside from a blood test at the beginning and end of each month.

When the second month of Clomid was unsuccessful, the very kind ob-gyn advised that I see a reproductive endocrinologist.  I made the appointment, and waited the three excruciating months for the consultation.

The meeting was brief.  We talked about my testing, medical history, and knowledge of the conception process.  In the end, my insurance would not cover much of anything, and we opted to try more medicated cycles.  I started what would be a six month Femara and Ovidrel diet, along with monitoring ultrasounds and blood work.

When the November 2011 cycle came to an unfortunate, but not unexpected conclusion, the husband and I decided to take the holidays off to enjoy being unmedicated for a bit.

In January 2012, I heard a radio advertisement offering a clinical study for women with unexplained infertility.  I figured I’d call and check it out… I mean, what could it hurt, right?  So I called.

After a series of questions over the phone, I was invited up for some preliminary blood work and to fill out some paperwork.  I found out about a week after the call that I’d been accepted into the study, and would receive four fully-funded IUI cycles, complete with medication and monitoring for my participation in the study.

I was randomized for medication at the beginning of February, and of the three options (Clomid, Femara, and Menopur), I was chosen for the pills.  I’m still not quite sure which pills, and I won’t officially know until after the study concludes.  I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s Clomid, however, based entirely on the horrendous hot flashes and night sweats.  I also get an HCG trigger 36 hours before my IUI, and I follow the IUI with Prometrium.

Last cycle was tough.  We not only got news of a very close family member who is expecting their first child, but we also suffered a chemical pregnancy after what was the most promising cycle I’ve ever had.  It was a very hard time for us, but I didn’t want to lose momentum and opted to continue onto the next cycle.

I am currently waiting to start monitoring for my thrid IUI cycle, and expect the procedure itself to take place early next week.

Come ooooooooon, lucky number three!!

So that’s my story so far.  I started blogging for catharsis, and through that process have met some of the most amazing, caring, supportive people in my life.  I hope to inspire others to share their stories as well, and to ask questions about the treatment process, the emotional toll, and how we cope with the stress month after month.

Above all else though, I hope to be a mother.  One of these days, it’s bound to happen, right?  :)

Thank you, Tracy.  Sending you lots of support and pregnant thoughts!

Share Your Story: PCOS

Please welcome Clare today, who shares a story that began when she was just 15 years old.  You often hear people reference that fact that things like PCOS can go undiagnosed until women attempt to have a baby.  Clare’s PCOS was diagnosed before she started trying, but her story begins when she was a teen and it isn’t over yet.  Please show Clare some support today.

 

I am now 33 and my story starts at 15, when I’d long started the dreaded monthly cycle. I have always suffered from painful and heavy periods. I thought it was perfectly normal to feel wretched each month and not only at the time of my period but throughout the month.

 

My mum, bless her just thought I was being an over dramatic teenager and trying to skive off school for a couple of days each month (when the pain and heavy flow meant the last thing I wanted to do was actually leave my bed)! But, pretty much each month I would end up in the sick room at school with a hot water bottle and hot drink, for my mum to come and collect me and take me home.

 

Over time I learned that the one of the best ways to deal with things, for me, was to just try and put on a brave face and try to carry on as normal, as best I could.

 

I met my husband when I was 18 and we moved in together within 6 months of meeting. I would describe him as “a quiet type” the total opposite of me.  He doesn’t always say a lot, but he is my soul mate and my rock, and has stood steadfastly by my side through thick and thin and I know I wouldn’t have got through everything we’ve been through, without him.

 

At this point, the pain had become much, much worse, so off to the doctor I went, and was lucky enough to see a brilliant female doctor. Once I had gone through all my symptoms, it was like the floodgates opened and years of pain flooded out through my tears. She referred me for a scan at the hospital to see what they might find and luckily my appointment came through quickly. This first scan was to be the first of many over the next 15 years and the results were large ovarian cysts, which then led to my first laparoscopy, which resulted in my diagnosis of endometriosis and PCOS.

 

The cysts were cut out and the surgeon removed as many lesions and adhesions as possible.

 

My follow up appointment was with a gynecologist, who basically told me that if I wanted a family, then I should start ASAP, as both conditions can cause infertility.

 

Hubby and I had already discussed starting a family early on so to us, this cemented our decision, and off we went, with me naively assuming that because I was young, pretty healthy, my tubes were clear and they’d had a good clear out, it wouldn’t take too long. How wrong I was!!!!!

 

Along the way, I suffered with even more pain, fertility drugs, 2 miscarriages, 3 more minor laparoscopy’s and 1 major laparotomy, unrelenting ovarian cysts as well as the emotional roller coaster that you are on, and none of the understanding that many people who haven’t traveled this path need, an understanding I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

 

The loneliness and desperation you feel as you become more angry that the body you have got to live in, for the rest of your life, constantly let’s you down, and the guilt of knowing that you are unable to give your husband a baby that you both so desperately crave.

 

I do, finally, have a happy ending! After 7 crazy years and after the emergency laparotomy that we feared would rob me completely of my fertility, turned out to be my savior! Within 6 months of my surgery, which was followed by 6 months of Zoladex, I fell pregnant naturally with twins. I very sadly lost one baby at 8 weeks, but in May 2007, I gave birth to my beautiful healthy boy, Finley, who I have to say, is amazing. He has brought so much joy and unconditional love and he enriches our lives daily, and I can hardly remember life without him.

 

We are now on the next steps of our journey, as yet again, 2 years of trying have left us at Endo/PCOS-1 baby-0. I had another laparotomy in late 2009, when an already existing heart condition was investigated further due to problems in surgery, and it was decided that this should be repaired first before we continued to try and conceive.

 

My surgery was in 2010.  During the surgery the heart condition was discovered to be life threatening and had I fallen pregnant again, would probably have killed both of us!

 

We now have the new obstacle of no ovulation, which I have to say, even for me is a new one. Finley, who is now weeks away from turning 5 is desperate for a brother or sister, as in his own words, “he thinks he’ll be a pretty good big brother”, and those words break my heart. Trying to explain that we would love him to be a big brother, but mummy has a tummy that doesn’t always work properly is heartbreaking for me.

 

I am also days away from laparotomy # 3 and I am hoping this will result in baby # 2, though it’s very hard not to be too positive or too negative, oh I wish there was a happy medium!

 

I try to take each day as it comes and see what happens and to try and always see the bright side of life, no matter how damn hard it is!

 

So many people though are so quick to tell me that, well you are still young and be grateful that you already have a child, some women aren’t as lucky as you, which then sends me into guilt trip mode, and then I feel ungrateful for my beautiful boy, damn, sometimes you just can’t win!!

 

Thank you, Clare, for sharing your voice in this community.  Sending you lots of pregnant thoughts and hoping that that laparotomy went well…

Share Your Story: One LoCo Mommy

This week on Share Your Story, meet Diane.  Known on Twitter as One LoCo Mommy, Diane blogs over at One LoCo Mommy.  There was nothing easy about her journey to parenthood, including a substantial amount of pain.  After months of trying without any luck, Diane finally saw a specialist.  It was then that she learned that she really only had a 1-2% chance of conceiving each month.  And so she started infertility treatments.  Today she shares her story with us.  “It’s So Hard When It Doesn’t Come Easy” originally appeared on The Invisible Disability on April 26, 2012.

It’s So Hard When It Doesn’t Come Easy

Byline:  One LoCo Mommy

This morning, after putting Mayita back down in her crib from yet another waking, I stumbled back to bed. Unfortunately I couldn’t get back to sleep. Thoughts kept rolling through my mind (like, preparing for her birthday party, why is my credit card bill so damn high, etc.) when I suddenly realized that I missed a BIG anniversary.

Five years ago, on April 23rd, 2007, I walked into an nondescript office building. It was a day we were waiting for a long time. It was the day of my Intrauterine Insemination procedure, otherwise known as an IUI.

It was a long, frustrating and painful lead-up to that day. We were trying for a year and a half.  We were doing all the “right” things. I had bought “Taking Charge of Your Fertility”. I measured my basal body temp every single morning and charted. I even had a subscription to an online site that would take my temps and pretty much told me the right time to…well…try.

I exercised, limited my caffeine and alcohol intake, and definitely tried to negotiate with “the big man upstairs”. I bought  books and then more books. I scoured the Internet for resources. I went to online sites and found other women like me trying to learn some magic trick to getting pregnant.

And, every month, like clockwork, there was the disappointment. The crying. And, because I havedysmenorrhea, I was in extreme pain (because the Pill actually helps regulate that). I was not a pleasant person during these times.

Inevitably, we would buck up and look forward to the next month with optimism. That maybe “this” was THE month.

But it was never THE month. And so it went on. We had to dodge questions from family and friends. We always had a smile and joked that our dog was, “our child” but yet it still hurt. When family members and friends announced their upcoming joys we were crushed. We would hold the babies in our arms, devastated that we hadn’t been the “lucky” ones.

I finally saw my OB again, and other tests were run. We discovered what we had suspected all along – that we were dealing with infertility. Most likely, we were looking at IVF for a shot of becoming pregnant. Even now, I remember how far my heart fell when I heard all those words. But yet, it was strangely reassuring because now there was something new to explore. We knew what was going on now.

We got our referral to a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE). After reviewing our initial results, the doctor explained that we had about…oh…1-2% chance of getting pregnant every month. Well, with those odds, no wonder we were failing miserably. The doctor continued by telling us that maybe an IVF wasn’t the avenue we should pursue. Instead, we should try an IUI, with Clomid and injectibles. As he put it, “create as many targets as possible for the little buggers.”

So we went through more tests and blood work. I had to get an hysterosalpingogram (HSG). And while the majority of women only have slight pain or cramping, I was not one of those. The poor techs were not sure what to do with my sharp breathing and yelps. Happily they were able to report that my reproductive system was clear as a bell.  I’ll take that as a compliment.

We had to go to a class to learn how to use the injectibles. Rather, Husband had to learn and I had to make sure that I wasn’t going to freak out about the thought of Husband giving me shots.

When we finally straightened out the insurance (and let me just say, we were extremely lucky my insurance covered this) we were able to “officially” start Round 1. That meant more blood work, and then I got to experience the transvaginal ultrasound. This is what I commonly joked to as the “dildo cam”. I took the Clomid on cue every day and then, on the designated days, Husband did his duty and poked me with the injectibles. He did very well and I was proud of him.

I had to have another ultrasound to monitor my follicle development and when the time was right, we scheduled the IUI. I had many viable follicles that were ripe for insemination. Woot. The actual procedure itself did not take long at all, was nowhere near as painful as the HSG (thank GOD) and I was able to go right back to work. With a little secret, of course.

And, so we waited anxiously. For two whole weeks. I obeyed my RE doctor and nurse who said not to test early. I didn’t want to have a false negative (or positive). In order to get an accurate result, a Beta Pregnancy Test was best. Which meant more blood work.

I never told y’all that I hate getting my blood drawn, right? I mean I actually will pass out. I was actually advised to not donate blood because I couldn’t last two minutes. But I put on my big girl panties for the chance to become a mom. I had to.

Putting on the big girl panties worked. My Beta levels were high. I was pregnant. Round 2 of the Beta test, then the ultrasound proved it. There was a tiny heartbeat going strong. Mere months later, Mayor Bee entered our lives. And we won the Battle of Infertility.

And for all the frustration, sadness, and worthlessness I felt during that long journey, holding that little precious baby made it all melt away. It was all worth it.

Thank you, Diane, for your words, your strength, and for sharing your happy ending.  A little bit of hope goes a very long way.  Now head on over and pay Diane a visit.
One LoCo Mommy

Share Your Story: Club MomMe

Allow me to introduce you to Lane, one of the lovely moms behind Club MomMe.  Lane cofounded Club MomMe with her friend and fellow Junior League volunteer, Rachel, during her first pregnancy (they were both pregnant at the same time).  Club MomMe is a supportive an educational site that aims to help ease the transition from me to MomMe…

But it hasn’t always been easy for Lane…Lane is here to share her infertility story.  Please leave her some support here.  Lane is a great support for moms in the blogging world, and also a friend.  

Mother’s Day Reflections

(This post was originally published on Club MomMe on May 16, 2012)

Byline:  Lane Gulotta

Mother’s Day is a celebration. A joyous occasion of bringing life into this world and coming together with family to give thanks to a woman (or women) in our life who have molded us into the person we are today. This is how we celebrated Mother’s Day. As we walked around Chicago together as a family of three I looked the part of the doting parent. What on earth could be wrong on Mother’s Day? What couldn’t be? Thanks to Hallmark, all Moms are supposed to be happy and give thanks on Mother’s Day.

What others couldn’t see this past Sunday was that I was mourning. I mourned the loss of a child just one week before this holiday, the slim prospect of having another and, yet another uphill battle with infertility to conceive again. And, an uphill battle it has been. Although we are only on our third round of treatments for baby number two (the first was eleven rounds) it has been significantly harder emotionally and physically during this second course of treatments. I feel guilty taking time away from a son we worked so hard to conceive to try to have another. Is this fair to him? Is this fair to me? What about my husband? He is an integral part of this and what are these treatments doing to our relationship?

You see, the decision to try to have another child and our failed attempts at it hasaffected us all in different ways. But most importantly it has shown me that mourning the loss of a child and the yearning for a sibling for our son are all natural emotions that women feel. These emotions make us stronger, bolder, more confident and more loving. They make us compassionate and understanding. They make us grandmothers, mothers, wives and sisters. They make us. They make me.

I have not figured out how to manage and balance the grief and yearning that I feel. But, I have come to understand that life is simple. We live and we die. In the process we all become mothers along the way. Some may be later than others and not through the most conventional ways. Do not give up hope. Until that time, celebrate the women in your life. Teach your nieces and daughters compassion and how to love. A special woman in my life did and I am ever thankful for her grace and patience. Without her I could not have celebrated Mother’s Day.

Thank you Lane:  For your beautiful words and positive spirit despite such a big loss.